Holy cow, y’all. I know it feels like we’ve been in constant hype mode ever since the start of War of the Spark preview season, but I can’t help but fall in love with nearly everything I’ve seen in Modern Horizons so far. The set is like a weird hybrid of Time Spiral and Modern Masters, and I’m absolutely here for it.
Financially, Modern Horizons is also kind of a weird, hybrid set that’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. Most people aren’t treating it as such, though. Case in point, most of the analysis I’ve seen about Modern Horizons has been treating it as, essentially, New Card Masters. The set’s pre-order prices fall into that lane too, with more than half of the mythics and rares previewed so far commanding prices well north of the $10 mark.
Except Modern Horizons is not a Masters set.
Let me say it again for everyone in the back: Modern Horizons is not a Masters set.
Masters set booster boxes have 24 packs; Modern Horizons has 36 packs per box. This fact alone changes the math in ways that people aren’t really appreciating right now. For example, a $220 box of Modern Horizons will only set you back about $6/pack, while a $200 box of a Masters set is still about $8/pack. People are treating these figures as roughly equivalent, but you shouldn’t be ignoring a 25% difference in pack value.
Even more importantly, Modern Horizons is a print-to-order set. Masters sets have short, limited print runs – if you don’t get your box right away, you have to pay secondary market prices for it. It’s hard to believe, but Ultimate Masters was released just six months ago. Instead of feeling like a current set, though, it feels like part of the ancient past. If you want a box of Ultimate Masters now, it’ll cost you $400.
Modern Horizons should still be on shelves, available at MSRP, this fall. Battlebond was last June’s supplemental product and boxes of that set are currently sold out at $160, but it took a while to get there. For most of 2018, buying a box of Battlebond wasn’t that difficult. I have to imagine the same will be true for Modern Horizons.
Why does this matter?
I’m not saying that these cards won’t hold their value long-term – they absolutely will – nor am I saying that there aren’t cards worth buying right now, because there absolutely are. I just think it’s prudent to remind everybody that Modern Horizons can’t support two dozen $30-$40 cards. As always, we’re going to have to be smart about what we buy.
Which brings us to the cards in question. Let’s start with one of the most exciting new mythic rares:
Urza, Lord High Artificer – $40
Urza, Lord High Artificer looks like a Commander card at first, but I actually think that it’s going to see a decent amount of play in Modern. There’s a whole lot of raw power and combo potential here for just four mana, and Urza appears to be tailor-made for Whir Prison. More precisely, Urza is ideal in the Thopter/Sword version of Whir Prison that Zan Syed had some success with at a few tournaments earlier this year:
The existence of decks like this prove that the Thopter/Sword interaction is powerful enough for Modern as-is, and that combo goes infinite with Urza, Lord High Artificer. The fact that Urza plays well with the rest of the deck is icing on the cake, and I expect a lot of people will pick this strategy up over the next couple of weeks. Sword of the Meek has already seen a major price spike, and I wouldn’t be shocked if a lot of these other cards follow. Ensnaring Bridge is already quite expensive, but the fact that it’s a four-of in Whir Prison while also serving as one of the major targets for Karn, the Great Creator means that it could be due for a wild bump in price. I wouldn’t be shocked if Mishra’s Bauble ends up back over $10 again.
Urza, Lord High Artificer could find a home beyond Whir Prison, too. It plays incredibly well with cards like Paradox Engine, Paradoxical Outcome, and Retract. Paradox Engine is already wildly expensive due to Commander, but it could easily end up in the $60+ range if it starts seeing play in Modern. Retract is probably the more exciting spec – it’s a long shot, but it’s an $8 card that was only printed once, in Darksteel. If it ends up as a four-of in a hot new Modern combo deck, we’d be looking at $30+.
As for Urza himself, a price in the $40-$50 range seems right over the short term. Longer-term, it’ll depend on how the Urza-based Whir Prison decks end up performing. If they become a crucial part of the metagame, we could be looking at a Karn-level staple and a $60+ card. If not, casual demand should keep Urza around $20. Despite the fact that I spent the entire introduction of this article talking about how not every card in Modern Horizons could end up being super-expensive, I definitely believe that Urza will maintain its value.
Serra the Benevolent – $30
I think most of us forgot about Serra, who was revealed on the Modern Horizons hype stream several months ago. She would have been one of the most powerful cards in War of the Spark, of course, but you could probably say that about most of the cards in this set. When you can design cards without having to worry about warping Standard, you can do some pretty wild things.
In terms of Modern playability, Serra the Benevolent seems like a role-player in a deck like Azorius Spirits or Orzhov Tokens. The decks that already run Worship in their sideboards probably aren’t going to switch over to a less consistent copy of the effect, even if Serra is more versatile. I can’t really imagine Serra causing too many other cards to spike in price, but I’d take a look at Azorius Spirits staples like Supreme Phantom, Mausoleum Wanderer, and Spell Queller if you want to speculate along these lines.
As for Serra’s price, casual demand should keep the planeswalker around $10 regardless. With some light Modern play, $20 is achievable. My guess is that she ends up closer to $12-$15, though, and I suspect she’ll be outclassed in both price and power level by several other mythic rares.
Morophon, the Boundless – $18
Just to get the obvious out of the way, Morophon, the Boundless will not be showing up in Modern anytime soon. This is a Commander plant, and it’s a good one. So let’s talk about that.
First of all, Morphon is going to shoot up to the very top of the EDHREC ranks. Everybody who has always wanted to make a tribal deck based on some random, unsupported tribe (or even just a lightly supported tribe without a good lord) has a Commander that they can use now. The way that the card is worded means that you can use it just as easily with a five-color tribe or a monocolored tribe. Expect foil copies of Morophon to be wildly expensive due to all this demand – a 4-5x modifier seems right to me.
Morophon is already causing a bunch of expensive secondary spikes, too. Foil copies of Jodah, Archmage Eternal have quadrupled over the past couple of days, and they’re likely to stay high. Jodah was a popular Commander in its own right, and non-foils are likely to start sneaking up at some point, too.
Of course, Jodah’s price looks like kid stuff next to the obscure Fifth Dawn rare Fist of Suns, which has shot into the stratosphere. This is one of those low-supply cards that suddenly has a ton of appeal to a ton of people, so don’t expect the price to start dropping off until there’s another hot new Commander on the block to replace Morophon. Selling into the hype is fine, as always – just understand that the hype here is based on actual demand, not just a finance community-led buyout.
What other cards might jump in price thanks to Morophon? Conspiracy and Arcade Adaptation are on my radar now. It definitely looks like Reaper King is in the middle of a buyout, though I’m not sure how much of that demand is actually real. To that end, we might see other five-color cards like Atogatog, Child of Alara, Cromat, Horde of Notions, Maelstrom Archangel, etc. bought out as well. Beyond that, Morophon is absolutely going to be shoved into all the Sliver Tribal decks, though most of those cards have already shot up in price recently.
What about the Bringer cycle, also from Fifth Dawn? These cards are quite solid in a five-color deck, especially Bringer of the Black Dawn, and they’ve never been reprinted. I don’t know if the Commander community will head in this direction or not, but the financial upside is massive if they do.
Seasoned Pyromancer – $15
Seasoned Pyromancer absolutely delivers the goods in terms of raw power level. Seriously – we’ve seen how powerful Faithless Looting and Young Pyromancer can be over the past few years, and I can’t imagine that Seasoned “what about those two friends, but stapled together?” Pyromancer won’t see a decent amount of play as well.
Seasoned Pyromancer seems like it was clearly developed with Mardu Pyromancer in mind, and it’s unfortunate that that deck has been kind of a non-factor recently. If Mardu Pyromancer were still at the top of the metagame, I guarantee you that this card would be pre-ordering for $30+ right now and selling well. Instead, you’ve got a shot to buy in at $15.
Honestly, this is one of the most appealing buys to me in Modern Horizons right now. There’s an outside shot that Seasoned Pyromancer is good enough to slot into Izzet Phoenix, which would instantly cause the price to shoot toward the $40 range. Even if that doesn’t happen, though, it won’t be long before some sort of Mardu Pyromancer-esque deck ends up becoming relevant again. Seasoned Pyromancer is going to find a home at some point, and it’ll at least double in price when that happens. Buy your playset before it breaks out.
The Horizon Lands – $30-$35
An entire cycle of Horizon Canopy-style multicolor lands? Holy mackerel. These five cards are going to help lower prices for almost everything else in Modern Horizons, because they’re going to remain expensive and popular for a long, long time.
For starters, Sunbaked Canyon is a massive boon for Modern Burn. The deck will likely run this over Inspiring Vantage, speeding it up while giving it more reach at the same time. I don’t know if this will be enough to cause the price of Burn staples to rise, but I bet we’ll see an uptick of demand for staples like Goblin Guide and Eidolon of the Great Revel. If you’ re interested in playing Burn at any point soon, I’d grab those cards ASAP.
These lands are going to slot right into Dredge as well. Fiery Islet, Nurturing Peatland, and Waterlogged Grave are the three from this cycle that Dredge will get to choose from, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they run six or seven of these in some configuration.
Those are just the obvious homes for this cycle of lands, though. Horizon Canopy is one of the most powerful cards in all of Modern, and it’ll take months before we get a real sense of what it means to have five more Horizon Canopy-style lands to choose from. I wouldn’t be surprised if these show up everywhere, providing the biggest metagame shake-up of any card (or set of cards) in Modern Horizons. Seriously – this is a very big deal.
I don’t think you’re ever going to be able to pick these lands up for less than $18-$20. And even that price will likely only be for the cards that don’t see a bunch of play straight away. Regardless, any serious Modern player is going to need a playset of each, and you should absolutely grab them at some point in July when the Modern Horizons supply reaches its peak. As with the fetchlands before them, waiting too long on this cycle is a great way to be forced to spend $50+ at some point down the road when these cards haven’t been in print for a while. They’re going to be that good.
I also wouldn’t be surprised if this cycle helps push down the price of the Scars/Kaladesh fastlands. That cycle is good, but I feel like it has just been jumped on the tier list. These lands also see play in similar decks, which means that you can upgrade them directly in most cases. I don’t think it’s a huge deal, but it makes the Kaladesh enemy-colored fastlands a slightly worse long-term spec.
Prismatic Vista – $30
Fetchlands tend to be pretty good in every format where they’re legal, and I expect Prismatic Vista to see a decent amount of Modern play. It’s worse than a normal fetchland in a two-color deck, of course, but it’s a solid backup option for everybody while also having some pretty serious game in four- and five-color decks. Blood Moon decks will want Prismatic Vista too, as will decks like Legacy Miracles and anything that runs Wastes.
Most importantly, Prismatic Vista is a stellar card in Commander. I can’t think of a single multicolor Commander deck I own that won’t want a copy of Prismatic Vista, which should keep the price high regardless of how much competitive play it sees. $30 still seems a bit much, but I bet Prismatic Vista will settle in around $15-$20 and remain one of the premier chase cards in Modern Horizons.
Force of Negation – $30
When I first saw Force of Negation, I wasn’t all that impressed. It’s like Force of Will but worse! Cards that rhyme with better cards tend to be the biggest financial traps during preview season, and I was all ready to write about how everyone would sing the praises of “the new Force of Will!” and we’d all end up paying $30 for a card that doesn’t actually end up seeing any play.
But the more time I spend with Force of Negation, the more I like it. Force of Will would have been atrocious in the current Modern metagame, enabling the linear combo decks in ways that would have made it impossible for a lot of aggressive and midrange strategies to combat. Instead, Force of Negation is at its best against linear combo decks, making it a solid option in the current metagame. The fact that you can cast Force of Negation for 1UU instead of Force of Will’s 3UU is what makes the card playable, and I wouldn’t be shocked if it sees maindeck play in decks like Izzet Phoenix and Azorius Control. Worst case, it’s a sideboard card in pretty much every blue control brew.
$30 is still too much to spend for Force of Negation, at least for as long as Modern Horizons is still in print. The card is good, but it’s not going to warp the format. It’s not even a mythic rare. My guess is that Force of Negation bottoms out around $12-$15, at which point it’ll be a solid long-term buy.
Cabal Therapist – $8
Much like Seasoned Pyromancer, Cabal Therapist appears to have been designed for a deck that is no longer relevant. In this case, it’s Rakdos Vengevine, which was running around all over the place last summer before being more or less replaced by the current versions of Modern Dredge. It’s possible that Dredge wants to run Cabal Therapist, which would lead to a $20+ price tag, but I doubt it. Instead, I feel like this is going to be a fringe card until/unless some sort of Vengevine brew comes back into vogue. $8 isn’t bad, but I feel like you’ll be able to snag these for $4-$5 in a couple of weeks if you want them.
Force of Vigor – $6
I had Force of Vigor previewed for me a few hours before I stopped by Star City Games to check out its price tag, which led me to be pretty shocked when I found that it was pre-selling for less than $10. Cards with alternate casting costs almost always find a home somewhere, and Force of Vigor seems like one of the most powerful pitch-style cards ever printed.
Yes, exiling a green card from your hand is a very real cost. And no, Force of Vigor can’t deal with Mycosynth Lattice because you can’t exile a green card if all the cards in your hand are colorless. I don’t care. Force of Vigor is going to do work in decks like Amulet Titan, and it’s an incredible way to fight against Chalice of the Void and Blood Moon in all the eternal formats.
$6 might be right for Force of Vigor short-term, but I suspect it’ll start to climb as soon as people start actually playing with this spell. $10-$15 seems more correct to me, and I’ll be picking up my set sooner rather than later.
Giver of Runes – $6
Much like Force of Vigor, I feel like Giver of Runes hits the sweet spot of becoming a Modern role-player without warping the format. Giver of Runes would have been the world’s most annoying card if it were a Human, and it still would have likely ended up as a four-of in multiple decks had it been able to protect itself. As-is, Giver of Runes is likely to see some fringe play in Humans (perhaps as a sideboard option) as well as all sorts of Death and Taxes-style brews.
I don’t think Giver of Runes is going to cause any other cards to spike – there won’t be a run on Thalia, Heretic Cathar or Humans staples due to this – but it’s a safe buy at $6 if you need it. It might drop down to $3-$4 over the short-term, but it’s one of those cards that’ll hop up toward $8-$10 once Modern Horizons leaves print.
Astral Drift – $4
It’s still too early to say whether Astral Drift will see any play in Modern. We’d probably need several more top-tier cycling cards in Modern Horizons, a couple of interesting Flicker targets, and…okay, yeah, that’s probably not happening. This is a decent piece of “combulk” to stock up on for the future at some point, but you should wait until it hits bulk rare range first.
Deep Forest Hermit – $4
Deep Forest Hermit is a clear callback to Deranged Hermit, which cannot be reprinted due to the Reserved List. It has vanishing instead of echo, but it’s pretty similar otherwise. Neat!
Deep Forest Hermit is almost certainly not good enough for Modern, but it’s likely to remind a whole new generation of casual players that Squirrels are super-neat. Deep Forest Hermit is likely to become a future bulk rare, but it’s probably worth snagging a few copies of the original Deranged Hermit. It’s a Reserved List rare that’s just $13 right now, which is practically unheard-of, and anyone who decides to build Squirrel Tribal is going to need one. I also wouldn’t be shocked if all the official Squirrel tokens see an increase in price, too.
Ice-Fang Coatl – $4
I actually expect Ice-Fang Coatl to see some Modern play despite the fact that it’s going to be incredibly difficult to turn on deathtouch most of the time. This card is probably enough of an upgrade to something like Coiling Oracle that it’ll show up in decks like Neobrand and Vannifar Pod. That probably won’t be enough play to cause Ice-Fang Coatl to break $5, but I don’t think this card is total bulk, either.
While I don’t expect this card to cause any spikes all by itself, any green-based deck that actually wants to turn on Ice-Fang Coatl is probably going to run Boreal Druid. That card has been on the rise for months now, and it’s due for a buyout. I’d snag a set of these ASAP just in case.
Collected Conjuring – $4
It’s Collected Company! But for noncreature spells! I mean sorceries. And also it’s a sorcery. That’s…quite a bit less exciting.
Honestly, I can’t think of too many spells that are exciting to hit off a Collected Conjuring. Most of the sorceries that see play in Modern right now are either one-mana cards like Ancient Stirrings and Faithless Looting or combo pieces like Conflagrate. You’d probably have to build an entirely new deck around Collected Conjuring if you wanted to play it. Blightning and Anger of the Gods, perhaps? Restore Balance and friends? Maybe a whole bunch of Stone Rains?
Ultimately, I think this one falls short and ends up as a bulk rare. A deck with a bunch of two- and three-mana critters is still going to be a good deck, even if you don’t draw Collected Company. A deck with a bunch of two and three-mana sorceries is just going to be awkward.
Relevant Commons and Uncommons
We don’t usually talk about commons and uncommons in this column, but that needs to change for Modern Horizons. Even if reprinted cards like Nimble Mongoose and Goblin Matron don’t end up being worth all that much themselves, there are plenty of financial ramifications for cards like this entering the Modern card pool.
Goblin Matron – $1.50
I still don’t think we have quite enough pieces for Modern Goblins to enter the format’s top few tiers. One more card from the Rishadan Port / Goblin Lackey / Goblin Ringleader collection probably needs to show up. Modern Horizons preview season isn’t over yet, of course, but I don’t think we’re there yet.
That said, I expect that quite a few people will try to make Goblins work, which will cause some pretty fun price spikes. Auntie’s Hovel has already rocketed up from $3 to about $15, but there will be others. Warren Instigator seems like the clear next card to go, and I doubt these will still be available for the current $5 retail price by the time you read this. Goblin Guide is already looking like a solid call thanks to the rise of Burn due to Sunbaked Canyon, and it won’t take much for Goblin Piledriver to double or triple in price. I’d sell all these cards into the coming hype, but you should snag them ASAP if they haven’t started to spike yet.
Fact or Fiction – $1
Fact or Fiction will see some play in decks like Azorius Control or basically any brew that’s running three or four copies of Cryptic Command. The card has been printed enough times (even in foil!) that I can’t imagine it’ll ever be worth more than a buck or two, but there will be a lot more demand for the Invasion foil now that you can play it in Modern. It’s the only old-bordered foil copy of Fact or Fiction, and it’s stupidly scarce. If you can find any copies out there for less than $80-$90 (good luck!), you should nab them ASAP.
Nimble Mongoose – $0.29
As a former Sultai Delver player in Legacy, I really want Nimble Mongoose to be good in Modern. Unfortunately, I don’t see it happening anytime soon. WotC isn’t giving Modern the Wasteland and Daze effects that a Temur Delver style deck would need in order to be playable, and the Modern versions of Sultai Delver run cards like Gurmag Angler and Tasigur, the Golden Fang that very specifically do not play well with Nimble Mongoose.
Foil Odyssey copies of everybody’s favorite Mongoose are going to spike just like Fact or Fiction, but I’d suggest selling these into the hype. The card won’t see much Modern play, and the price will start to come down again.
Lava Dart – $0.25
If Lava Dart sees Modern play, it will likely be as a replacement for some of the existing burn cards in Izzet Phoenix. That could be enough to cause the old-bordered foil from Judgment to end up in the $15-$20 range, though I still feel like Gut Shot is going to be preferable in most cases. Yeah, I’m selling my old foils of Lava Dart into the hype, too.
Full Art Snow-Covered Lands
These are pretty cool, and they should help bring down the price on the Snow-Covered lands from Ice Age and Coldsnap. These are the only reprints in the set that aren’t new to Modern, and they probably would have caused the good “snow matters” cards like Scrying Sheets to double in price had that not already happened about a month ago due to leaks and/or rumors.
Scrying Sheets actually spiked again earlier this week, but its short-term future price is going to depend entirely on what other good snow permanents we get in Modern Horizons.
Also up this week: Extraplanar Lens, because you can break its intended symmetry by using snow basics. This combo was already Modern-legal, so the spike is mostly due to Commander players gaining greater access to snow basics. That makes sense to me, though I doubt this card is actually stable in the $40+ range. Expect it to stabilize closer to $30.
This Week’s Trends
Sarkhan the Masterless was the biggest Standard gainer of the week. Following Zan Syed’s Open win in Syracuse last weekend with Jeskai Superfriends, Sarkhan roughly doubled in price from $2 to $4 and the deck is becoming a larger part of the Standard metagame.
- 2 Karn, Scion of Urza
- 1 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
- 4 Teferi, Time Raveler
- 3 Saheeli, Sublime Artificer
- 4 Narset, Parter of Veils
- 4 Sarkhan the Masterless
Also up this week: Karn, the Great Creator; Teferi, Time Raveler; and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. All three of these cards are proving their worth across multiple formats, with the Teferis continuing to crush in Standard while Karn proves to be one of the most impactful eternal cards in years. Even with Modern Horizons hype reaching a fever pitch this week, I’d expect all three of these cards to continue slowly gaining value.
Speaking of Modern Horizons, we’ve already talked quite a bit about the cards that are gaining value right now due to this week’s juicy new previews. Let’s recap the most relevant ones now, though, so that we have all of that info in one place:
- Reaper King – spiking due to Morophon, the Boundless
- Fist of Suns – spiking due to Morophon, the Boundless
- Jodah, Archmage Eternal (foil) – spiking due to Morophon, the Boundless
- Auntie’s Hovel – spiking due to Goblin Matron
- Sword of the Meek – spiking due to Urza, Lord High Artificer
- Paradox Engine – spiking due to Urza, Lord High Artificer
- Extraplanar Lens – spiking due to the Snow-Covered basic lands
- Scrying Sheets – spiking due to the Snow-Covered basic lands
- Lava Dart (foil Judgment) – spiking due to Modern legality
- Fact or Fiction (foil Invasion) – spiking due to Modern legality
- Nimble Mongoose (foil Odyssey) – spiking due to Modern legality
Trinisphere and Grim Monolith are also up this week due to Karn, the Great Creator’s continued effect on Modern, Legacy, and Vintage. Trinisphere has been spiking for a few days now, but Grim Monolith is new. It’s a Reserved List card that’s already wildly expensive, but it’s a crucial part of Legacy’s hottest new deck, so up it goes. As with all Reserved List staples, the sky’s the limit here. Snag them ASAP if you can get a copy or two at the old price.